Cognitive-Behavioural Group Work: Its Application to Specific Offender Groups

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This article challenges views that cognitive-behavioural approaches are universally applicable with all groups of offenders. It examines the implications of applying major findings of the ‘what works’ literature to non-mainstream correctional groups, such as those comprising female, adolescent and Indigenous offenders. It asserts that successful rehabilitation depends on the application of treatment matched to the criminogenic and non-criminogenic needs of the person, as demonstrated through the meta-analysis of Andrews and Bonta (2003) and the ‘what works’ literature. Whilst acknowledging the value of these approaches, the article reflects uncertainties about the efficacy of group processes and cognitive-behavioural approaches in working with young people, women and Indigenous offenders, groups that have been largely neglected in terms of research and evaluation, especially in Australia. The article concludes that there is insufficient evidence available at present to be able to assess the rehabilitative efficacy of cognitive-behavioural approaches when applied uncritically with offenders outside the adult mainstream and identifies the need for wider research into effective group treatment processes with these groups.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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